Education vs The world
Why is our education system failing? It must be teachers. It must be funds. It must be whatever you want to say but the truth is it’s our culture. A culture that says everything else can be fun and should be fun and entertaining but school. School has to be hard and boring. You shouldn’t enjoy school that’s just weird.
Why is that and how can we fix it? There’s two sides to this problem everything else and school. Everything else doesn’t need to be made less fun but be given perspective that just because they’re more fun doesn’t mean they’re better. School needs to be made more enjoyable so that students can focus because schools are competing with our culture of distraction.
Sports and Pop culture are the two main contenders for power in our culture. It’s gotten to the point that kids assume if you’re on a sports team your grades are easier because you have to practice so they let you off easy. Even if you’re a good student if you’re on the team that’s all they say about you, like your straight A’s didn’t matter (source).
Even when you get to college the institute of higher learning, sports still remains king. As colleges are forced to jack up tuition rates, drop classes, fire personal they still find space in the budget for over 10% salary increases for coaches (source). That’s insane; you can’t even justify that with how much they get back from the games because of all the budget cuts everywhere else on campus. Think about that, we’re outraged about CEO’s giving themselves bonuses as the companies they own go in the red, how is this any different?
We live in a culture where you have people with near encyclopedic knowledge of every NFL team and player but can’t tell you about anything to do with science or history. We expect kids to care about school when we don’t? We expect them not to notice that everyone knows who’s playing for the Patriots but we don’t know who was the first American Patriots? The kids that need to study won’t because we’re basically telling them that it doesn’t matter, “Just join the NBLA, NFL…” The smart kids, the talented ones, they can especially tell that we don’t care about education or intelligence. They get that message every time the whole school cheers for a player but not a single person outside their parents go to the debate team match.
Pop culture isn’t much better. We have the same encyclopedic problem again only now its celebrity gossip. We have an entire industry dedicated to finding about other people’s business for the sole fact that they are famous. The public eats it up, if you took a small part of what the world knows about Lindsey Lohan and put it into medicine we’d cure cancer.
Thankfully the sound bite of “More people vote for American Ideal than the President” is not true (source). The spirit of the statement is still true. How many talented kids have thrown away futures for the promise of fame? How many grades has watching the game cost us? The damage is incalculable; we’re losing future great minds to the empty ideal of celebrity status. We need a culture that praises the smart kid that encourages kids to learn. That shouldn’t be a funded outreach program or extra effort it should be built into our society not an afterthought.
What should we do? How can we fix this problem? We need a change in the culture. There has to be a conscious effort to change how we teach our kids. Any educational reform has to start at the cultural level. We can’t say one thing and do another because that’s what we’re doing now. We tell kids that school is important then go back to watching reality TV or sports and that’s it. They go work hard for something we show every day we don’t see as important.
How can we change the culture? The institution of education has treated pop culture like a disease that must be eliminated to keep kids focused on school and in an ideal world that might work but pop culture is not going anywhere so why not use it? The private sector already has they have entire series of computer games dedicated to making learning fun. Reading Blaster, Math Blaster, there’s SpongeBob games, Scooby Doo games. If you want to find more click on this leak: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_game.
Why can’t we make games that are educational and fun? We want kids to focus on school when we don’t and we want to them to focus on something we’ve made to be the exact opposite of what they consider fun. Instead of trying to force the students to change to that system why not adapt the system to them. They’ll focus on pop culture and sports so why not copy that success. We need to even the playing field between school and entertainment what better way than combining the two?
You’re teaching them about history why not show an accurate movie or have them play a game that teaches about the subject? Have games for math, for science, for English… You get my point. People think that’s giving into the culture and giving up but if it works then do it. This is not saying we’ve lost to the culture of anti-education; we’re making the culture work for us.
I’ve shown how entertainment can be used but so can Pop Culture and Sports. Pop Culture could be adapted to History and Literature. Think about it, using celebrities as analogies to history, relating movies to the classics. It can be done and it will help make the information relatable to the students. Sports could help math, remember your sport fan friends that can repeat statistics like its dogma, why not use that memorization for calculations or relate formulas to sports?
We need to change the culture to even begin to fix the system we have because it’s the base of the system.